Fair Grove, Mo. man speaks out after being carjacked during police chase
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A man who said he was carjacked during a chase through several counties over the weekend is sharing his traumatic experience. That chase started in Buffalo early Friday morning and went on into Dallas, Polk and Greene Counties. The suspect was finally arrested after a shootout between him and officers and locked into the Greene County jail.
Greene County Sheriff’s Deputies got involved in that chase after the suspect had stolen two vehicles and shot at police officers along the way. Near Fair Grove, after driving over spike strips, the suspect pointed his gun at a disabled man and stole the van he was driving.
“God was watching out for me," said Keith Tate. "There’s no way I’m not... How am I not dead?”
Keith Tate never wants to relive what he went through early last Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the flashbacks are haunting him.
He said he was driving home to Fair Grove when he saw a pack of police vehicles and a truck blocking the highway. He said he pulled over to see if he could help.
“The next thing I know, there is a man holding a huge firearm and he’s right at the windshield and he’s screaming, ‘I’m going to kill you,'" Tate said.
Tate said that’s when confusion and shock set in.
“I was so scared, I was shaking so violently, I couldn’t get the seatbelt to undo," he said. "That’s when I really thought I was going to be a goner.”
Before his encounter with Tate, authorities tried to take the suspect, 32-year-old Nathaniel McElroy, into custody. According to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, McElroy stole a pair of vehicles and repeatedly shot at officers. After they spiked his tires, he stole a third vehicle, the Tate family’s mini-van.
“His arm and the gun were inside the vehicle and at my head. Close enough to where I could smell the heat from the barrel because he had been firing at police officers," Tate said.
Tate got out of the vehicle and onto the ground before McElroy drove away again. Later, police say, there was a final shootout between McElroy and deputies. Tate’s van was caught in the crossfire.
“It’s absolutely destroyed. Destroyed. Everything is shot up on that thing," he said.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said that van is now impounded and being kept as evidence. A spokesperson with the office says Tate’s insurance company will have to pay for the damages, but can sue the suspect as well.
Tate said there is a bigger loss than his means of transportation, his sense of security.
“I know me personally, I’m always the one to pull over to help people. I don’t see that happening ever again, which is very sad. It’s probably the saddest things that could’ve come out of this," he said.
Even though he never would’ve asked for this trauma, Tate is praising God for his safety, and has a message for the law enforcement officers who were there.
“Thank you. Not only for what you did for me, and it was nothing but compassion and empathy, but thank you for what you do every day," he said.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said McElroy, the suspect, was transported to a local hospital to be treated.He’s now held without bond in the Greene County jail on several charges, including hijacking.
Greene County, Dallas County, along with Laclede County, Webster County and Buffalo police are all investigating the incident.
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